Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Benjamin Whiteman was a man of influence and he used that power for the good of Greene County.

Born in Philadelphia on March 12, 1769 Whiteman, at about 13 years of age, moved to Kentucky with his parents. As a young man he served in three frontier war expeditions. These journeys caused him to be interested in settling in the Miami Valley.

In 1799 Whiteman moved with his wife, Catherine, and her parents, Owen and Latitia Davis, to the mouth of Beaver creek. His father-in-law opened a mill. Broadstone in his 1918 book, History of Greene County, Ohio, says, "Members of the "Dutch Settlement," in Montgomery county, thirty miles away, would bring their corn to the Davis mill, and after they had ground their meal, they would camp out there that night and depart for home early the next morning."

Whiteman built a house near the mill and sold it to his father-in-law. It was later used as a temporary meeting place for Greene county courts.

When Greene County was organized in 1803, Whiteman was appointed one of three associate judges. He was also hired to change a block house near the courts so it could be used as a jail.

Among his first cases as a judge was one which involved Owen Davis, his father-in-law. Davis had a fist fight with a man from Warren County he believed had stolen some hogs. After winning the struggle, Davis went into the court room and said to Whiteman, "Well, Ben, I've whipped that hog thief; what's the damage?" After paying an eight dollar fine he shook his fist and said, "Yes, Ben, if you'd steal a hog, I'd whip you, too."

The Whiteman and Davis families sold their property in Beavercreek Township in 1805 and moved to the vicinity of Clifton. Whiteman built a large stone house called "The Stone Pile". He also had a woolen mill at Clifton Gorge.

Whiteman was a General in the War of 1812 and led a brigade of soldiers. It has been reported that cloth for their uniforms was supplied by Whiteman's mill.

Several pioneers were invited to name the city chosen to be the seat of government of Greene County. Whiteman and the Davis' were among those asked. A stranger, later identified as Rev. Robert Armstrong, suggested Xenia, a Greek word meaning hospitality. After several votes Xenia was chosen.

When the boundary between Greene and Clark Counties was laid out, Whiteman's "Stone Pile" fell on the Clark side of the line. Whiteman pressed the Legislature to change the line so that he could be a resident of Greene County. And so in 1819 they did.

Whiteman died in July of 1852 at the age of 84 and was buried in Clifton Cemetery.

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